Riusuke Fukahori: The Painted Breath at Joshua Liner Gallery, New York

The Painted Breath at Joshua Liner Gallery is an exhibition of new resin works and paintings by Yokohama-based artist Riusuke Fukahori. The show is Riusuke Fukahori’s debut solo exhibition in New York.

The whole show revolves around the goldfish, as Riusuke Fukahori is a goldfish fanatic. This has to do with a point in his life when he was depressed and the sight of his neglected goldfish in the dirty tank triggered something in him. Since then the goldfish is the focus of his work.

In this video we attend the opening reception of his solo exhibition The Painted Breath at Joshua Liner Gallery in New York City, and watch Riusuke Fukahori’s live painting performance on the occasion of the event.

Riusuke Fukahori: The Painted Breath at Joshua Liner Gallery, New York City. Opening reception and live painting performance, November 21, 2013.

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From the press release:

Fukahori is not a resin artist. He is not a traditional Japanese artist. Riusuke Fukahori is a goldfish fanatic. The goldfish are a metaphor for his life. At his lowest point””ready to give up and get a “real job”””he saw his neglected goldfish in their dirty tank and recognized something. Something inside him was hooked and he was the one caught by the fish.

Goldfish””which were once kept outside and survived on their own””must now be fed regularly and do not survive through winter without heat lamps. Goldfish will die from the water they themselves pollute if it is not cleaned for them. The artist sees himself and his own weaknesses as a modern human, reflected in the evolution of goldfish.

Fukahori keeps dozens of goldfish in tanks, bowls, and buckets around his studio. The artist says when he is tired or feeling lost with what he’s working on, he simply sits and watches the goldfish. He sketches them, too, but mostly he is trying to commit them to memory. The artist does not use photographic source material, so when he paints, he paints from memory””his pre-sketches are almost unrecognizable as fish. When one of his fish dies, he removes it from the water to sketch it at every angle. Fukahori paints the images of these goldfish-friends in his work so their inspiration will live on.

After finding the focus of his work, it took the artist more than a year to decide to use resin to realize his passion. And once he began using resin, he kept it a secret for eight years until he could perfect the technique. He found resin to be the ideal medium to depict his characters, but more importantly it allowed him to use the vessels he wanted to encapsulate the work. Just as important as the resin, he considers the receptacles to be the key to his pieces. In responding to others that have started using the same technique, Fukahori says, “I didn’t invent resin and not the first to use resin. I am not a resin artist. I am a goldfish artist. I think it’s obvious which pieces are Riusuke Fukahori pieces because the imitators use the wrong containers. They will never understand goldfish the way I do. They are only copying the craft, not the soul.”

Each of Fukahori’s resin pieces are contained in Japanese household items. Many of these were bowls and cups that he himself used for years until they broke. Without any intentional aspiration, Fukahori is a reflection of Japanese culture, giving us an idea of what it’s like to be in a Japanese home. Every element of his work is precious and personal. He remembers his goldfish-friends that have passed away, using his favorite cracked miso soup bowl””evident in the work Warewan. The cracks in the bowls and the goldfish he chooses to paint are expressions of his affection.

Striving to paint the goldfish as realistically as possible, people when first introduced to his work often try to reach into the “water” to touch the fish. Pouring a layer of resin, letting it dry, then painting a small portion of the fish, letting it dry, then pouring another layer of resin””patiently repeating these steps until the final product is a three-dimensional representation of a goldfish. Not only in his resin works, you can see the artist integrating his passion in other areas. Fukahori has used his extensive knowledge of goldfish to invent new breeds, as seen in his painting Hinshu Shirasumi Soramitsu. When asked about his future plans, he sees his goldfish swimming in space. His goal is to paint his goldfish on a rocket ship.

Underneath it all, Riusuke Fukahori is a prankster. Ever since he was a child he loved tricking his friends at school””even the teachers. He would make realistic looking objects out of clay and place them in strategic locations. From a hiding spot, he would watch their reactions and loved seeing their surprise when they thought these hand-made objects were real. When people see his work today and do a double take, he still feels that boyish satisfaction.

Born in 1973 in Aichi prefecture in Japan, Riusuke Fukahori currently lives and works in Yokohama. Selected solo exhibitions include The Painted Breath at Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, NY (2013); Goldfish Salvation at ICN Gallery, London, UK (2011); The SOLO Project, Basel, Switzerland (2011); Galerie an der Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany (2010). Group Exhibitions include Direct Address (2013) and Summer Group Exhibition (2012) at Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, NY; Mystery at Hamada City World Children’s Museum, Hamada, Shimane (2005).